Monday, February 22, 2010

Ode to Keats

I'm devoting this entry to John Keats, that famous Romantic poet.

Last night, I watched the movie Bright Star, based on Keats's love affair with Fanny Brawne. Here's the trailer.

Wow. It was one of those movies that stayed with me for hours, even a whole day after I saw it. The cinematography was brilliant, the acting SUPERB, and the poetry - well - let's just say I could sit and listen to Ben Whishaw (the actor) quote me Keats's poetry for hours on end. *swoon*

What I got most out of the movie, though, was the passion that so many writers possess. Passion for love, for living, even for death. I don't know that writers necessarily feel things more deeply than other "mortals" (lol), but it does seem that way sometimes. Or, perhaps, it's that writers are simply brave enough to attempt to express those feelings on paper.

Witness, for example, some excerpts from Keats's real-life letters of love to Fanny. Then ask yourself how many people in real life can express these feelings quite so deeply as he. Breathtaking:

My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you — I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shudder'd at it — I shudder no more — I could be martyr'd for my Religion — Love is my religion — I could die for that — I could die for you. (Letter, 13 October 1819).

Ask yourself, my love, whether you are not very cruel to have so entrammelled me, so destroyed my freedom....For myself I know not how to express my devotion to so fair a form. I want a brighter word than bright......a fairer word than fair. I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days--three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain
.- John Keats, Letter to Fanny Brawne, July 1, 1819

That movie, Bright Star, touched me so deeply. As a writer, as a human being. I love it when film and literature blend together so beautifully. It's almost magical.


  1. I'm so with you on this! That movie made me cry more than once. Ah, love and poetry. It doesn't get better than this. :)

  2. Lizzy - that scene with Fanny toward the end (I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it) had me crying more than I'd expected - beautifully acted. That girl deserves an Oscar!!! Too bad the Oscars all but ignored the film (except for costume design, I think).

    *sigh* Love and poetry. Nope, can't think of anything better in the world. :-)

  3. "Thou still-unravished bride of quietness,/Thou foster-child of silence and slow time/Sylvan historian, who canst thus express/A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme..."

    I love Keats. Although I've always found it disconcerting that he died at like 26. All that fabulous poetry in such a short time, and here I am, at...a lot older than 26, still wondering what I'll be when I grow up.

  4. Gayle, watching the movie, I thought the exact same thing - how tragic his all-too-brief life was, but how much writing he packed into those years. Very inspiring. Yep, I'm about 14 years older than the age when he died! Disconcerting, indeed.

  5. Oh my....have to put Bright Star on my movie list. That poetry! So intense, full of passion.